Last night, the unhappy news of Nora Ephron's death at 71 swept across the internet like a juggernaut of sadness—sadness so deep and all-encompassing that we immediately put in our DVD of "Sleepless in Seattle," watched it all the way to the end, and cried the whole way through.
...Not because of the sad loss of a talented writer/director, but because that's what always happens when we watch one of her movies, because she was just that good at making you feel things.
And today, in honor of the inimitable Ms. Ephron, we've put together this list of the most wonderful moments from her movies that made us feel all the feelings. Sad, frustrating, funny and true, these are five scenes out of many that made her work painfully, perfectly human.
5. "When Harry Met Sally..." The After-Sex Awkwardness Scene
That horrible, wonderful turning point when two longtime friends fall into bed together was wonderfully, horribly captured in this scene from the classic romantic comedy. Sally (Meg Ryan) and Harry (Billy Crystal) spend most of the film answering the question, "Can men and women be friends?" with a resounding yes...until, in a moment of vulnerability, their relationship takes a sexy turn. The scene is a painful juxtaposition of Sally's perfect post-coital happiness—because everything has changed —with Harry's perfect post-coital panic, because EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.
4. "You've Got Mail," The "I Could Never Be With Someone Who" Scene
It's not unusual for people to have multi-point checklists of must-haves and deal-breakers for potential romantic mates, but this scene from "You've Got Mail" illustrates beautifully just how arbitrary those bulleted lists really are. Midway through the film, a tiff between longtime couple Kathleen (Meg Ryan) and Frank (Greg Kinnear) finds him stating that he could never be with someone who didn't take politics seriously...causing Kathleen to furiously call his bluff with the information that the previous year, she—GASP!—forgot to vote. And then they break up! But not because she doesn't take politics seriously; because they just aren't right for each other, and not-voting—as with most items on the romantic checklist—is a big, red herring.
3. "This Is My Life," The "Sex Ed With Mom" Scene
The only thing more awful and awkward than having sex for the first time? Having sex for the first time and getting interrupted by your mom—as this scene from the underrated "This Is My Life" makes poignantly, painfully clear. Anyone who's ever cringed through The Talk at the hands of an embarrassingly frank parent will recognize themselves in the uncomfortable squirming of the teenagers whose abortive first-time results in a sit-down sex ed chat with the young man's mom...complete with diagrams.
2. "Sleepless in Seattle," The "Men Never Get This Movie" Scene
One of the best parts of "Sleepless In Seattle" is that its story is interspersed with references and clips from the classic "An Affair to Remember"—and for every girl who's ever attempted unsuccessfully to explain "The Notebook" to her skeptical boyfriend, this scene will cause squeals of delighted recognition. Meg Ryan and Rosie O'Donnell sit on a couch, tearfully watching the tragic romance between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, while Rosie sniffs, "Men never get this movie!" at the same time, 3,000 miles away, Tom Hanks has the plot explained to him and...doesn't get it. Some things never change, apparently.
1. "When Harry Met Sally..." The "Faking It" Scene
This isn't just one of the most talked-about scenes from Nora Ephron's oeuvre; it's one of the all-time greatest moments in the history of film. The product of an actual "gotcha" moment between the writer and director Rob Reiner ("Not with me, they don't!" was Reiner's original reaction when Ephron informed him that women have been known to, y'know, fake the big O), there's nothing about this scene that's not perfect: Meg Ryan's total abandon, Billy Crystal's stricken expression, and the realization that when it comes to romance, there are always surprises in store.
What are some of your favorite scenes from Nora Ephron's films? Sound off in the comments and on Twitter!